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News 21 Mar 12

Libya Seeks Kosovo's Help in Peace Transition

A delegation from Tripoli has visited Pristina as it believes Kosovo's post-conflict transition process could serve as a useful model for Libya, a government official told Balkan Insight.

Fatmir Aliu
BIRN
Pristina

Kosovo's Deputy Security Forces Minister, Shemsi Veseli, told Balkan Insight that a delegation from Tripoli had visited Pristina recently to learn about Kosovo's experience in reintegrating former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, fighters after the conflict in Kosovo ended in 1999.

“They wanted to know... what we did first after the end of the war, how we transformed the KLA into the Kosovo Protection Corps and then the Kosovo Security Forces, and how the transition period, the amnesty and disarmament processes went,” he said.

The KLA was formed in the 1990s to fight for an independent Kosovo.  By 1997 the new formation was taking on the Serbian police and military, prompting a brutal crackdown by Slobodan Milosevic’s regime.

In 1999 NATO intervened with an air campaign aimed at forcing Serbia to withdraw its police and military, while the UN installed an interim administration, which lasted until March 2008 when the former province formally seceded from Serbia.

Since then 98 countries, including 22 of the 27 EU countries and the US, have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Serbia still considers the province its sovereign territory and is backed by Russia and China, among others.

Shemsi Veseli said the Libyan delegation was also interested in getting training from Kosovo Security Forces, an emergency response force built up by NATO.

He said the Kosovo government has expressed its readiness to help Libya with the experience it had gained throughout the transition period.

“We were asked [by the Libyan delegation] if we could help Libya in training their future forces, and said 'Yes',” Veseli said.

“We even said we were ready to send our troops on a peacekeeping mission to Libya as we have expertise in demining, search and rescue operations, and paramedics. Whether NATO will allow that, we don’t know,” he added.

The Kosovo Security Force is a professional, multi-ethnic, lightly armed and uniformed force that is subject to democratic and civilian control. It numbers 2,000 soldiers.

Its primary mission is to conduct crisis response operations in Kosovo and abroad; civil protection operations within Kosovo; and assist the civil authorities in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.

The government has announced a possible further transformation of the force by the end of this year, making the KSF into a regular army.

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